JACKSON, Tenn. – April 4, 2012 – Every 18 seconds, a child in the world becomes an orphan – adding to the population of 140 million orphans worldwide.
Caleb Chapman wanted to do something to raise awareness among college students about the plight of orphans, so he launched the Red Bus Project – a double-decker bus turned thrift store that’s touring college campuses this spring.
The bus stopped at Union University April 3 and offered Union students an opportunity to donate clothes, buy clothes that had been previously donated and interact with Chapman and other representatives from the Red Bus Project.
“(The Red Bus Project) is hopefully kind of a beacon for students to start their own projects,” Chapman. “What way are you going to get involved in orphan care? We did something crazy that is causing a lot of attention, but it’s ultimately to inspire.”
Chapman is the 22-year-old son of Christian recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman, and the frontman for his own independent rock band, Caleb. The band performed a free concert on the patio of Barefoots Joe to close out the day’s activities.
The Red Bus Project is an extension of Show Hope, an organization founded by the Steven and Mary Beth Chapman to providing care for orphans and funding for families to adopt children. All proceeds raised from the Red Bus Project’s sales go to support orphan care through Show Hope.
“Students are capable of far more than people give them credit for,” said Chris Wheeler, director of student initiatives at Show Hope. “We wanted to create a simple way for college students to become aware of the plight of more than 140 million orphans who have lost one or both parents, and to go from awareness to taking action.
“Not all students have money but lots of them have stuff they can donate,” Wheeler continued. “A big red double-decker bus cuts through the noise on campus and provides a fun thrift store shopping experience for students, all for a good cause.”
Union physics professor Fonsie Guilaran and his wife Lesley are Show Hope sponsors. The Guilarans have adopted two children – Angel, 10, from the Philippines, and Xiao Yiu, 4, from China.
“We’re very passionate about adoption because it’s a call God has put on our lives to be pictures of the gospel to the world around us,” Lesley said.
Madeline Hemphill, a Union freshman from Nashville, Tenn., worked with the Red Bus Project in January researching different colleges and universities and determining which ones would be good fits for the tour. Her father Trent owns a bus company that acquired the double-decker bus, removed the seats, painted it and prepared it for the tour.
“This is an opportunity where we can help with this movement without having the finances that other people might have,” she said.
Jamie Blurton, a Union junior, is president of Phi Theta Kappa and brought 13 boxes of clothes that members of her organization had donated to the Red Bus Project.
“Community service is one of the most important things in our organization, so we try to do so many community service projects a semester,” Blurton said. “We thought this would be great, because it was something fun and easy that we could get together and donate.”
Union was the 16th of 24 stops on college campuses scheduled for the Red Bus Project.
“Overall, (the reception) has been beyond what we had imagined,” Chapman said. “It’s been a total success.”